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From River to Sea: Evidence for Egyptian Seafaring Ships

Cheryl Ward


Questions over when and how the ancient Egyptians went to sea continue to engage scholars in debate. Recent excavations of ship timbers at a pharaonic harbor on the Red Sea provide direct evidence for technological approaches that affirm Egypt’s idiosyncratic patterns of ship and boat construction (as familiar from Nile riverboats, which provide the largest and most ancient assemblage of watercraft before the classical period). This technological patterning illustrates comparable antiquity to other artisanal products of the upper hierarchies of the state. Reconstruction of a twenty-meter vessel—based on archaeological evidence from seagoing timbers, representations, models, and river hulls—resulted in an efficient and effective sailing ship.


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